The Australian government has announced in its federal budget for 2018/2019 that blockchain technology will receive some money and attention. The sentence says:
“The Government will provide $0.7 million in 2018-19 for the Digital Transformation Agency to investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services.”
The Digital Transformation Agency was set up in 2015 to facilitate the entrance of the Australian government into the digital world. In this year’s budget it has been allocated a total of $92.4 million. Research into blockchain technology will receive 0.75 percent of this.
Australia has indicated in the past that it is eager to become a welcoming place for cryptocurrency. In its 2017/2018 budget it said that it was “committed to establishing Australia as a leading global financial technology hub”, and to that end scrapped a 10 percent goods and services tax that had been levied on Bitcoin.
In July, Australia recognised Bitcoin as currency and passed a law stating that digital currency will be treated exactly as fiat is when it comes to money laundering and terrorism.
This move was partly because the country was reportedly losing more than $28 billion a year through money laundering. The government said that it considered cryptocurrency to be a popular tool for criminals; its financial watchdog received 1,289 complaints of Bitcoin-related scams in 2017. $1.2 million was stolen in total.
Last month, Australian cryptocurrency exchanges were told that they had until the 12th of May 2018 to register with Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the country’s financial intelligence agency, which was granted new powers to police the market.
These included the ability to monitor suspicious looking digital and cash transactions involving more than $10,000.
The Australian Securities Exchange, the country’s biggest securities exchange, announced in December 2017, after two years of tests, that it will be switching its registry to blockchain technology this year. It has a market capitalisation of 11.99 billion AUD and so will become one of the biggest entities in the world to make such a transition.